Thursday, July 23, 2020


Located 7.4 miles west of Redding on Muletown Road is the historic Princess Ditch. This ditch was formerly owned and operated by the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company of Leadville, Colorado. It was dug out by their employees during 1896 and it was completed in January of 1897. From the source of its water supply at Boulder Creek in the present day, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, its purpose was to convey water to the various quartz mines in the Muletown mining district and to the company's hydraulic mining operations which were situated in Secs. 25 and 26, Township 31, North Range 6 West, and consisted of three hundred acres of patented mineral land.

According to records, there was a drift mine of natural bedrock, and two fifty ft., shafts on the property. This historic water ditch operated in the late 19th Century, and during the early 1900s, by special permit obtained from the California Debris Commision. This permit allowed the Princess Hydrualic Mining Company to operate their hydraulic mining site in Shasta County, even though hydraulic mining had been outlawed in California since 1884. Their last permit was obtained by them in January of 1903, as their hydraulic mining operations continued, the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company was ordered to terminate their hydraulic mining activities due to their retaining wall which was condemned by the California Debris Commission. Their hydraulic mining operations has been idled since 1903. 

A century later, in 2014, this historic mining ditch was converted into a modern hiking trail. Those involved in the project were: the Bureau of Land Management, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, the McConnell Foundation, the State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, among other groups. They connected the Princess Ditch to additional trails in the area. Altogether the trail is a one-way 8.5 mile trail system, moderate to strenuous in parts, which connects with the Mule Ridge trail and the Salt Creek Loop trail. 

Above video: "An Abandoned Adit Quartz Mine, On the Historic Princess Ditch Trail." Filmed by Jeremy Tuggle on 7-20-2020.

In 2018, this modern hiking trail was destroyed by the ravaging flames of the deadly Carr Fire. Two years later, the trail system has grown back to its natural state, yet scarring from the fire remains visible. This trail is maintained by the National Park Service.

People can take the trail from its parking lot at the Oak Knoll Trailhead and can walk through some of its original course. However, the trail has its secrets, and one of them is a moderate to strenuous walk on a short over-grown mining road with fallen trees and poison oak. This mining road leads to an unnamed adit quartz mine which is hidden uphill off the trail from public viewing. From the start of the trail system at its parking lot on Muletown Road is a 0.2 hike to the mine's tunnel (if you know where to look for it). This adit quartz mine could have been owned by the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company since they had a drift tunnel on their property. 

Yet, it's a possibility that this adit quartz mine is part of the nearby Anavina Group of Mines also known as the Peerless mines, a series of five claims which were lucrative in gold, and located by miners in 1885, to work the mine as a placer mines which later converted into a quartz mine. The original name of the mine is not known to me, and I haven’t found it on any topographic maps of the area but it is an intriguing adit quartz mine which was mined for gold. With cool air flow circulating through this abandoned quartz claim, the tunnel measures an estimated 400 feet that's well worth the time and energy to check out, but as always be safe when entering old mines and take the necessary equipment you need with you.


Miners Want Water - The Los Angeles Herald newspaper of Los Angeles, August 11, 1897

The California Debris Commission - The San Francisco Call newspaper of San Francisco, January 18, 1903.


Mines and Mineral Resources of Shasta County, Siskiyou County, and Trinity County, by G. Chester Brown, ©1915 published by California State Printing Office.

Place Names of Shasta County by Gertrude A. Steger revision by Helen Hinckley Jones, ©1966 by La Siesta Press, Glendale, California

Mines and Mineral Resources of Shasta County, California – County Report 6 – by Philip A. Lydon and J.C. O’ Brien ©1974 by California Division of Mines and Geology

The Princess Ditch and the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company; Historic Background Research, Evaluation of Significance, and Recommendations. Bureau of Land Management, Redding Field Office. Barbara Woodrum ©2011 

Environmental Assessment and Assessment of Effect Princess Ditch Trail Construction March 2014 National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Monday, July 13, 2020


Located about 2.4 miles-north west of French Gulch in the French Gulch mining district is the Washington mine. The mine was located in 1852 by prospectors John Souter and John Syme. Together the original locators began working it as a placer mine. Eventually, shafts and tunnels were dug out which turned this mining site into the first quartz mine in Shasta County. The mine holdings are on private property owned by the French Gulch Nevada Gold Mining Corporation which purchased this celebrated mining property in 2004; a subsidiary company owned by the Bullion River Gold Corporation of Reno, Nevada. I reached out to one of their employees I knew so I could film the mine and property with my family. A paternal great-great-great grandfather of mine, Reverend William S. Kidder (1834-1911) was employed as a miner at the Washington mine during the 19th century when he was living in French Gulch. This video was filmed on 7-12-2020.


Place Names of Shasta County by Gertrude A. Steger revision by Helen Hinckley Jones, ©1966 by La Siesta Press, Glendale, California

Mines and Mineral Resources of Shasta County, California – County Report 6 – by Philip A. Lydon and J.C. O’ Brien ©1974 by California Division of Mines and Geology

Friday, July 10, 2020


Located approximately two miles north-west of French Gulch in the French Gulch mining district and in Franklin Gulch was the Franklin mine. A lucrative producer of gold, originally located by pioneers John Syme and his mining partner John Souter in 1852. It became the second quartz mine in Shasta County. It was later owned by the Franklin Mining Company who named themselves after the mine they had purchased. About 1910, owners erected a small stamp mill on the property and began to crush the rock for the ore they were after. Between 1907 and 1912, the Franklin mine produced $350,000 from three of it's four levels of operations and the production continued through various owners. From 1907 through the 1940's this gold mine was worked by the Western Exploration Company- and, or their leases after the J.H. Scott Company leased it during the 1930s. The J.H. Scott Company owned it from the second World War on. It was then abandoned, and then in the 1960s the Franklin mine passed into the hands of the Mountain Copper Company of Martinez, California. Later on, different people bought it until the mine laid idled and abandoned again. Now it remains an interesting place to visit, but use caution, be alert and take the necessary equipment you need with you. Mines can be dangerous at times. Enjoy the video.


Place Names of Shasta County by Gertrude A. Steger revision by Helen Hinckley Jones, ©1966 by La Siesta Press, Glendale, California

Mines and Mineral Resources of Shasta County, California – County Report 6 – by Philip A. Lydon and J.C. O’ Brien ©1974 by California Division of Mines and Geology

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Above: Big Wheels Restaurant, date unknown. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Who remember's Big Wheels Restaurant at Shingletown? It was in 1939 when Harry Abbott established it after opening a trading post along Highway 44, Abbott included a set of big wheels as shown in the above photograph which would forever become its trademark and it help promote his establishment to passing motorists. You can see that the big wheels were taller than his buildings on the property.

Abbott purchased the big wheels in 1936, three years before his establishment's grand opening. Abbot was a natural businessman who also founded a gas station, grocery store, bar and a dance hall on the property. You might remember the large circular saw in the lobby of the restaurant? It seems to be a popular memory for a lot of people who ate there. Abbott eventually sold the business to new owners.

Various owners had operated this popular eatery and among them were Carole and Richard Smith, under their ownership an extensive gift shop was added. The Smith’s sold out to Dave and Mary Thomas, and they owned it for for a good ten year period. The place was bought numerous times after the Thomas’s sold out.

Then on, January 1, 1997, fire destroyed the Big Wheels Restaurant which left it's original chimney standing. The popular eatery was rebuilt, and yet to some people it just wasn't the same, and on May 16, 2005, a second fire ravaged the property which destroyed everything inside the new restaurant portion and left the chimney standing again. Eventually, it had passed into the ownership of Mike Dastrup. The only item left to view on the property is the large brick chimney fire place. At the present date, this chimney still stands on this property in Shingletown.

Above: the large brick chimney fire place still stands at the site of Big Wheels Restaurant off Highway 44 at Shingletown. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on June 28, 2018.

Above: a side view of the large brick chimney fire place. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on June 28, 2018.


Shingletown VF 979.424 Towns on file at Shasta Historical Society

Menu's From Various County Restaurants - VF 642 on file at Shasta Historical Society

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Yankee John mine.

The Yankee John mine was located by miners in 1858, part of the Centerville mining district near Redding, Shasta County, California. It had various owners through the years. Between 1926 and 1932 the Yankee John mine yielded $83,000 worth of gold. The mine was abandoned in 1962.  It's still an intriguing place to visit west of Redding via Placer/Simmons Road. BLM maintains this historical mining site.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Temple Hotel

On June 12, 1891, the San Francisco Call newspaper published the following column about the future Temple Hotel and Masonic Lodge of Redding:

Another Masonic Temple

The Redding Lodge Branching Out In Grand Style.

The Masonic Building Association of Redding has so far completed arrangements as to order the signing of the contract for the erection of the Masonic Temple in that place. It will be a four-story edifice, the two lower stories for rent, and third floor for Masonic uses, with lodge-rooms ample for all higher degrees, Knights Templars, etc., banquet-rooms and library rooms. It will be the finest building of its kind north of San Francisco. The Masons of Redding are hopeful that the building will be completed by September or October, before the Grand Lodge meeting. The Grand Lodge will be asked in due time to lay the cornerstone, with the Masonic fraternity and military assist. The Redding Lodge intends that it shall be the pride of the fraternity and the event of all Masonic events in the northern portion of the State.

The Temple Hotel’s cornerstone was laid on August 6, 1891, by the Redding Lodge of Masons for the Masonic Building Association, on the southeast corner of Tehama and Market Streets. In 1894 the construction on the Temple Hotel was completed and the Masonic Building Association opened their new hotel and lodge. It was a gothic style four-story building with a basement and it featured the Masonic symbol at the top of the building. The hotel included one hundred rooms for its guests and one bathroom in the entire building, however, porcelain potties were provided under each bed for their use. The third and fourth floors of the building were reserved for Masonic members. The Masons utilized the majority of the hotel. At one point, the Masonic Building Association began transporting travelers from the Temple Hotel to the Redding Depot on Yuba Street with their own wagon and it remained a custom of the hotel for many years.

The Masonic Building Association employed Henry Clineschmidt to conduct the everyday business of the hotel and Masonic Lodge. His wife Nancy (Ritchie) Clineschmidt assisted her husband when he needed her help, and of course additional employees were hired. The Clineschmidt’s were permanent residents of the hotel.

Above: the Temple Hotel of Redding, date unknown. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

The hotel included a barroom which was stocked with the finest liquor and cigars. The Masonic Building Association hired F.A. Nauman to tend their bar. Nauman was still employed by them in 1898. By the following year the Temple Hotel was advertised as a first class establishment with first class table service and airy and pleasant rooms. The hotel room rates were one dollar per day and upwards while meals were offered at twenty-five cents a plate.

After the turn of the century, the Temple Hotel included the Temple Barbershop owned and operated by W.J. Scott, which was located on the main floor. It was still in business by 1904; however, it was a short-lived business venture. The barroom inside the hotel always kept busy. Two years later, on January 2, 1906, the Temple Hotel and Masonic Lodge were sold by the Masonic Building Association to Henry and Nancy (Ritchie) Clineschmidt for a total of $24, 000. Now the Clineschmidt’s not only operated the hotel - they owned it.

Over the years the hotel hired a number of employees to work as bell hops for both day and night shifts and night clerks for the hotel. In 1907, a popular night clerk at the Temple Hotel, Harry Grant, disappeared after robbing the cash register of $40. The story made headlines, but Clineschmidt chose to not press charges against the young man. Henry Clineschmidt and his wife continued to operate the hotel until her death May 13, 1918, and his death February 1, 1919. At this time his son Henry Clineschmidt Jr., along with his wife Luella, became the owners.

By 1931 the Temple Hotel had a registered address at 1401 Market Street. During the 1930s, the Clineschmidt’s brought in new businesses to the main floor of the hotel. These included the Temple Barbershop, whose proprietors were Elliott & Height, and the Temple Hotel Beauty Shop, which was owned and operated by Ell Feuz Eliz Carney, and the barroom became the Temple Lounge, which was owned and operated by A.V. Pearson.

In 1940 the Temple Lounge changed hands and Charles Bragg became the new proprietor. In 1948 the Temple Hotel was one of four major hotels in the area; Redding also had six smaller hotels in operation at that time. By 1951 owning and operating the hotel became an extended family affair with Henry Jr.’s brother Robert L. Clineschmidt stepping in to help his brother and sister-in- law. The Clineschmidt’s resumed control of the Temple Lounge. Matters at the Temple Hotel and Masonic Lodge stayed the same through-out the 1950s and into the 1960s.

The Masons still used the hotel and lodge for a number of events through the years. In 1964, the Temple Hotel was torn down as part of the first phase of the downtown revitalization plan of the 1960s to create the downtown Redding Mall, which wasn’t built until 1972. Today, the only thing left of the Temple Hotel is the basement which was used to store choice wines, bourbon and other alcoholic beverages for sale in the Temple Lounge.


Another Masonic Temple – The San Francisco Call newspaper of San Francisco, June 12, 1891

New Masonic Temple – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, August 7, 1891

The Red Bluff News newspaper of Red Bluff, March 4, 1898

1899 City of Redding Directory

Redding Hotel Man Assaults A Constable – The San Francisco Call newspaper of San Francisco, April 5, 1902

Masonic Hall Is Sold For Big Price – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, January 3, 1906

Hotel Man Is Arrested – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, April 6, 1906

Redding – The Chico Record newspaper of Chico, June 5, 1906

Night Clerk Gone – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, May 5, 1907

1931 City of Redding Directory

1938 City of Redding Directory

1940 City of Redding Directory

1948 City of Redding Directory

Henry Clineschmidt Sr., Find A Grave Memorial

Images of America: Redding by Shasta Historical Society with Al M. Rocca ©2004. Published by Arcadia Publishing. ISBN: 0-7385-2934-6

Thursday, May 28, 2020


Shenanigan's Gulch was the original name of the present-day location of Pollard Flat just 35 miles north of Redding along Interstate 5. The origin of the name is unknown. Shenanigan's Gulch originally started as a tent community and it was first settled by early Portuguese emigrants.The first route in the area which these emigrants used leading to and from Shenanigan's Gulch was discovered in 1832 by Hudson's Bay Company trapper and explorer Michael LaFramboise, and became known as the LaFramboise Trail. 

Later on, the trail was reconstructed into a small road during the early 1850s to accommodate mule pack trains, and after the creation of Siskiyou County, in 1852, it became known as the Siskiyou Trail, alias the Sacramento Trail or the Sacramento River Road. Then in, 1852 the California State Legislature authorized improvements on the trail. Ross McCloud, a native of Ohio, and a resident of Dog Creek, was the man who made those upgrades to this trail. The changes included turning it into wider and smoother road system leading out of the Sacramento River Canyon, which made it passable for wagons traveling north and south. 

The name of Shenanigan's Gulch was no longer used after 1853, and it became known as Portuguese Flat (or Portuguese Flats) due to the first settlers. During the mid-1850s it was an up-and-coming place to live. People lived here due to the lucrative gold strikes in the area as a stampede of miners descended upon this place making it one of the most ramshackle mining communities in Shasta County. 

By 1855, there were three or four buildings in the area including a boarding house owned and operated by Ross McCloud, and his wife Mary (Fry) McCloud, who were still residing at Dog Creek. Ross McCloud completed the road project on February 2, 1856, when the job was done local residents rejoiced over the work on the Sacramento River Road that Ross McCloud did. 

Above: To Packers! Time and Money Saved! The notice of the completion of the Sacramento River Road by Ross McCloud. From the Shasta Courier newspaper edition of February 2, 1856.

In February of 1856, a local mining company at Portuguese Flat claimed ownership of a mining claim near a trading post owned and operated by a Mr. Bird, which discovered some gold embedded into a quartz rock. After the extraction of the precious ore from that quartz rock it yielded them $175 in value it won them some praise in the local newspaper. Later on, the same company found another quartz rock which was valued at $270, after the gold was extracted from it. 

Increase travel over the Sacramento River Road began boosting business at the local boarding houses and at Bird's trading post, that month. Most of the travelers were passing through on their way north to Yreka or south to the town of Shasta. That year, the distance from the town of Shasta to Portuguese Flat was about 47 miles.

The mines in the area were producing lucrative results as well. Bird, eventually sold his property in the area, and then he relocated from Portuguese Flat which now lacked a trading post or a general merchandise store. It would be a while before another trading post or general merchandise store was established in the area. 

During May of 1856, a new boarding house called the Chicago House came to fruition. It was owned and operated by L. Fuller (first name unknown). The Chicago House included one of the first dairies in that area and ranch connected with the property as well. Portuguese Flat was not an agricultural community but a lucrative mining community. 

Above: an advertisement for the Chicago House, proprietor L. Fuller at Portuguese Flat. The advertisement was first published on May 20, 1856, and its from the July 19, 1856 edition of the Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta.

Five months later, on October 4, 1856, a miner and local resident named Charles Blair, also known as "Frances Blair", a native of Ohio, and his partner Jesse Stanley, attacked a Chinese camp at Portuguese Flat which was located near a tributary of Slate Creek, which flowed through the area. The incident was heralded in the Shasta Republican newspaper from Shasta, which printed the following article on October 11, 1856:


On Saturday night last a camp on Slate Creek containing six Chinamen was attacked by white men. One Chinaman was mortally wounded with knives and died the next day. The other Chinaman made resistance with such vigor that the assailants were driven away – leaving behind them a pistol and hat. A man by the name of Charles Blair has been arrested for the crime. An examination took place before Justice Gibson at Oakville, and Blair was committed to our jail where he is now held in confinement. Parties have been in pursuit of another man who is suspected of having been engaged in the murder. The body of the deceased Chinaman was brought to this place on Tuesday last. On Wednesday the Coroner held an inquest on the body and the jury found a verdict in accordance to the above facts. The Chinaman were robbed of the sum of $89.”(SIC)

Stanley’s name isn’t mentioned in the above article but he was mentioned at a later date as being associated with Blair during the murder. Apparently Jesse Stanley went east towards Pit River where he was rumored by the media to be hiding among the Indians of the Pit River tribe who sheltered him at their Rancheria. Law officials eventually tracked him down and arrested Stanley for murder of the above Chinaman, not much is known of Stanley's fate.

Blair was found guilty of first degree murder when he was convicted by a grand jury in the Shasta County Superior Court on December 2, 1856 in Shasta. Blair was sentenced to be hung at the gallows in Shasta on January 16, 1857, however, his defense team opposed the original sentence and asked for a stay of execution from California Governor, J. Neeley Johnson to lower his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Blair would learn his fate on May 1, 1857.

During Blair's confinement in Shasta the convict attempted an escape from the Shasta County Jail and he was caught in the act. On May 1st, Governor J. Neely Johnson approved the stay of execution and lowered Blair's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was sentenced to San Quentin Prison and taken to the prison from Shasta by Shasta County Sheriff John A. Drieblebis where Blair was received on May 9, 1857.

The following excerpt about Portuguese Flat is taken from the Shasta Republican newspaper dated May 23, 1857, which states the following:

"The bars of the river are represented as paying good wages. At Motion Creek, Dog Creek and Portuguese Flat the miners are prospering. The helpfulness of the above mentioned diggings, together with the pure water and cool summer breezes of the Upper Sacramento, offers inducements rarely surpassed in California for miners to work during the summer months."

During the latter part of May of 1857, Robert "Bob" Cranston, a local resident of Shasta, established a passenger mule pack train conveying people by wagon from Shasta to Yreka, using the Sacramento River Trail route. He hired the best drivers who knew how to handle the dusty roads and trails via mule pack, and with his employees they maintained customer satisfaction with his clients. 

Above: Robert "Bob" Cranston's office was located inside the Empire hotel on Main Street at Shasta. Cranston had promised fast travel to Yreka from Shasta leaving the Empire hotel. He made stops in the Sacramento River Canyon stopping at Dog Greek, Portuguese Flat, Soda Springs and Stevens Ranch, in Siskiyou County, ending at John Loag's livery stable in Yreka, through in two days. This advertisement is from the June 6, 1857 edition of the Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta. 

Later, this company competed with Loag & Kenyon's Passenger Trains, proprietors James Loag and Francis Kenyon. This company also used mules to convey their passengers by wagons. They had a similar stopping schedule, each travel agency always tried to out do the other by bringing more people into the area. Portuguese Flat was booming with new settlers buying up land and erecting additional bungalows in the area, due to the recent gold strikes. 

On April 27, 1858, a dissolution of partnership occurred between Loag & Kenyon and James Loag finalized all bills and debts against this firm. Cranston's company continued to convey the customers to their destinations in the Sacramento River Canyon, and his business was good. Later on, this company did go out of business.

To conclude the story of Charles Blair, he remained at San Quentin Prison until May 16, 1859, when he was pardoned for his crime and discharged from the prison by California Governor John B. Weller. Blair departed from the State of California and he never returned to Portuguese Flat. Some records indicate he went back home to Ohio.

In 1859, newcomer Robert Pitt, a native of England, began ruling the area with an iron fist, and was a rough person to get along with. He was also feared among his peers as well. Portuguese Flat had an election precinct named after it, which other historians state this election precinct was established in 1868, and that is incorrect, because on August 20, 1859, the Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta published the following list of inspectors and judges of the Portuguese Flat election precinct who were appointed by the Shasta County Board of Supervisors at that time:

"Portuguese Flat -

Inspector: Robert Pitt 
Judges: James McMeans and Captain Myers."

It's possible that the Portuguese Flat election precinct could predate 1859. Numerous elections had been held since that time electing inspectors and judges (justices of the peace) for that area. In order to be elected for one of these positions you had to live in the designated area.

During 1860, 4,360 people were living in Shasta County, while more people were making their home at Portuguese Flat that year. Four years later, in 1864, Robert Pitt, established a general merchandise store at Portuguese Flat, and his business flourished with success. It was the first store of its kind since Bird's Trading Post was in operation at that location. 

In addition to his general merchandise store, Pitt also established a hotel and a livery feed stable that year. Pitt, who was also a miner in the area hired additional help to assist him in his businesses so he could focus on his lucrative mining claims in the area. The Portuguese Flat hotel which was owned and operated by Robert Pitt was built by local carpenter John Vart, a native of Canada, who whipsawed the lumber for the hostelry. The hostelry included sixteen rooms and a saloon with a cellar. Porcelain potties were kept under each bed of this hostelry, and each room had bath tubs which water was brought inside from the outside for baths.

Two years later, in 1866, local miners were making five to ten dollars per day by hand at Portuguese Flat, and gold nuggets weighing several ounces were frequently found in the area. In February of that year, William H. Gooch, a native of Massachusetts, relocated from Copper City and settled at Dog Creek. Gooch established a general merchandise store at Slate Creek, near Portuguese Flat, and he competed in business against Robert Pitt. 

Then, on February 21, 1866, a miner named Robert Carruth, a native of Lupkin County, Georgia was instantly killed in a quartz mine which had collapsed with thirty tons of rock striking him from above at fifteen feet deep inside the tunnel he was working. Mining accidents like this one were known to happen but they weren't frequent happenings. Portuguese Flat was not successfully known for its agricultural purposes but a few farmers tried harvesting crops in the area like Reuben P. Gibson who registered to vote there on July 12, 1866. 

Then in, February of 1867, Robert Pitt's mining claim on Portuguese Flat was yielding eight to ten dollars per day by hand. A mining company called Moore & Company built a self-discharging reservoir which introduced water to their mining claim for an easier extraction of the ore they sought after. Additional water was brought in from the Sacramento River when they needed it packed in by mule pack trains.

Then on, April 1, 1867, a man by the name of William Thomas Smith registered to vote at Portuguese Flat. Smith was a native of England and an active miner in the area at the age of thirty-four. In January of 1868 a violent winter storm caused the flooding of a creek above Portuguese Flat which swept away a bridge recently built by the Sacramento Road Company, another bridge near the area on Dog Creek was carried away as well. In that winter storm the Sacramento River rose four feet higher in only two hours, which had never been seen before by the settlers of the Sacramento River Canyon. 

On July 10, 1869, the Shasta Courier newspaper reported the following account in this column:

"Upper Sacramento Items - Alexander McMullen & Co., are engaged in digging a water race three miles above Portuguese Flat for the purpose of enabling them to mine the bed of the river in which they have found very rich prospects. The river, in the neighborhood of the Flat has been wing dammed in a number of places and generally paid well for time and money expended."

The above is the first resource that I have found of the bed of the Sacramento River in that territory of Portuguese Flat being mined for gold at an early date. 

A few events of the time in 1870, after trying his hand at farming in the Portuguese Flat area, local resident Reuben P. Gibson, changed his occupation to become the local blacksmith. Sadly, Robert Pitt had put William H. Gooch out of business at Slate Creek which forced his early retirement. William H. Gooch eventually died on November 28, 1870, in a wagon accident which carried Gooch down a steep embankment that claimed his life near Slate Creek. 

To add to Pitt's success the United States Postal Service in Washington D.C., approved the establishment of a new post office at Portuguese Flat called Portuguee on April 15, 1870, which was ordered by them to be housed in the general merchandise of Robert Pitt, but Pitt was not the first postmaster as some people believe. The following list is a complete listing of postmasters for the Portuguee post office: 

1. William T. Smith - April 15, 1870 - August 25, 1870 

2. Robert Pitt - August 25, 1870 - April 22, 1872 

3. Simeon F. Southern - April 22, 1872 - September 20, 1872 

4. Robert Pitt - September 20, 1872 - May 15, 1877

After the establishment of the Portuguee post office, the town's polling place where local residents went to cast their votes and pay for their taxes were held at Pitt's store. The following article was printed by the Shasta Courier newspaper on Saturday, October 15, 1870:


At about 12 o’clock on the night of September 29th a fire broke out in the barn belonging to Robert Pitt at Portuguese Flat in this county, which defied all efforts to extinguish it. There were four or five teamsters camping there that night and their horses and mules were in the barn. Several of the mules and horses were burned to death and the loaded freight wagon driven by Bill Eddy was also consumed. Eddy himself was seriously burned in trying to save his mules. The fire caught in the loft of the barn and is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary Pitt, the owner, is absent at present, on a visit to the States.”(SIC)

Robert Pitt had great success at mining as well which is mentioned in the following column by the Shasta Courier newspaper on April 15, 1871: 

NUGGET - Last week Robert Pitt, of Portuguese Flat in this county, found a gold nugget in his claim which weighed $70. Pitt says it is nothing unusual to find pieces of gold in his claim worth from $10 to $30.” 

Above: Attention Taxpayers! Selective towns in Shasta County where local residents could pay their state and county taxes in this county during the fiscal year of 1871-1872. Thomas Greene was the Shasta County Tax Collector at the time. Portuguese Flat was among those places. This is from the Shasta Courier newspaper edition of November 11, 1871.

Then on, August 5, 1872, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors abolished the Portuguese Flat election precinct with eight additional precincts in Shasta County, that day. New election precincts were also established, and on that day, the Dog Creek election precinct which now included Portugese Flat came to fruition. It certainly changed things for the area, and the reason why it was abolished was not given by them.

During the winter of 1872, it was Robert Pitt who introduced two hydraulic mining monitors to the area which heavily washed out the lucrative ore he was searching for in his mining claim. His mining claim yielded valuable prospects. About the same time, the California & Oregon Coast Line Stage Company which was owned by Sanderson, Parker & Company began taking travelers from their office in Shasta to the new town of Redding, and afterword's their stage stopped at various places including Pit River, Dog Creek, Portuguese Flat, and Soda Springs in Shasta County. They made various stops in Siskiyou County, until they reached their destination at Yreka. They continued public transportation throughout that decade of the 1870s.

Above: Robert Pitt released this advertisement in the Shasta Courier newspaper. for his general merchandise store, hotel and feed stable that he owned and operated. This is from the May 21, 1881 edition of the Shasta Courier newspaper. 

After the Portuguee post office was discontinued by the U.S. Postal Service in Washington D.C., on May 15, 1877, the town's mail was sent to the Hazel Creek post office for delivery by their postmaster, Simeon F. Southern. Four years later on, May 1, 1881, another horrendous murder took place at Portuguese Flat involving two men, a local Indian by the name of Indian Pike and his employer, Robert Pitt, who conspired together to kill an old-man named James H. Hayes, a local miner who resided at Portuguese Flat. From a San Francisco newspaper the following excerpt of an article included the real story about the murder:

"On the night of the 1st of May, when the ground was covered with snow, the Indian taking Pitt's rifle went to the old man's cabin and shot him dead. Pitt and the Indian were arrested. The former was tried, convicted and last Saturday was sentenced to imprisonment for life. On Monday, the Indian pleaded guilty. Pike takes matter very easily. He has a strong contempt for Pitt, not inducing him to shoot the old man, but for failing to keep the terms of the contract. he says that when he asked Pitt for the $100 and a gun and a horse, which he claimed were due him for the work, his confederate told him that he was nothing but a good-for-nothing Indian, and refused to give him any part of the promised reward. Pitt is in Shasta jail, yet, and his friends claim that he is insane." (SIC)

Indian Pike was received at San Quentin Prison on August 24, 1882, he was paroled on August 10, 1906, and was pardoned for the murder of James H. Hayes and restored to citizenship on July 31, 1909 by California Governor, James Gillet. He later returned to Shasta County to live out the rest of his life, and avoiding Robert Pitt at all costs. Indian Pike died in 1912.

Robert Pitt was also tried and convicted of first degree murder in the Shasta County Superior Court for the murder of James H. Hayes. Pitt was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was received at San Quentin Prison on November 28, 1882. Local residents were rejoicing that Pitt was gone for good, and a new era of change began to put some good into Portuguese Flat’s reputation. However, only time would tell the future fate of Robert Pitt.

As if Portuguese Flat, couldn't catch a break from Robert Pitt, he was later pardoned, discharged and restored to citizenship for the murder of James H. Hayes on January 25, 1886 by California Governor George Stoneman. Two days later, Pitt was discharged from the prison and he returned home to Portuguese Flat. A hated man with a bad reputation. 

According to renown historian Gertrude Steger in her book, Place Names Of Shasta County, she states that the: "name may have derived from the few 'pollard' pines in the area." Further more, Portuguese Flat was located north of a Pollard Gulch. However, another source claims that at the time of Pitt's incarceration in 1882, a newcomer by the name of John Pollard, a blond whiskered miner who arrived and settled at Portuguese Flat purchased property in the area. This is when the local residents renamed the community in his honor, trying to put their tainted past behind them and move forward into the future. Whatever, the case may be the name stuck to the area and at the present, this community is still called Pollard Flat which remains a rural community in northern Shasta County along Interstate 5.

Above: in 1855 the community of Portuguese Flat established a cemetery. Today, it is located near La Moine. The sign states: "HISTORY - Native American Cemetery, Portuguese Flat Cemetery 1855, Baker Cemetery 1940." This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on September 26, 2015.

Above: some of the headstones in the above cemetery. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on September 26, 2015. 


The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, March 26, 1853

The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, July 14, 1855

The New Sacramento Trail - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 22, 1855

The Sacramento Trail - Wagon Road Practicable - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 13, 1855

The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 2, 1856

Mining on the Upper Sacramento - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, March 8, 1856

Portuguese Flat - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, April 12, 1856

Portuguese Flat - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, May 24, 1856

The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, July 19, 1856

Chinaman Murdered - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, October 11, 1856

To Be Hung for the Murder of a Chinaman - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, December 13, 1856

Execution of Blair - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, January 10, 1857

Charles Blair - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, February 28, 1857

Respite To Blair - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, March 7, 1857

Miners on the Sacramento - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, March 7, 1857

Life Imprisonment - The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, May 9, 1857

Suicide - The Republican newspaper of Shasta, August 8, 1857

California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950, for Charles Blair

California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950, for Charles Blair

Dissolution - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, May 8, 1858

Good Riddance - The Daily Alta California newspaper of San Francisco - May 21, 1859

Our Special Correspondence From Point San Quentin - The Daily Alta California newspaper of San Francisco, July 31, 1859

The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 20, 1859

1860 U.S. Census

Died - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, June 25, 1864

California Voters Register, 1866

William H. Gooch - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 10, 1866

Killed By Caving Of A Bank - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, March 17, 1866

Post Yourself - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 18, 1866

1866 California Voters Register

Portuguese Flat - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 9, 1867

Sacramento Road - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 9, 1867

Dog Creek - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, April 6, 1867

The Upper Sacramento - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, July 27, 1867

Dog Creek - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 31, 1867

The Recent Flood - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, January 11, 1868

Upper Sacramento Mines - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, May 23, 1868

Upper Sacramento Items - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, March 20, 1869

Upper Sacramento Items - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, July 10, 1869

1870 U.S. Census

Fire - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 15, 1870

Death Of Wm. H. Gooch - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, December 3, 1870

Nugget - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, April 15, 1871

Political Speaking - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 19, 1871

Dead - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, April 20, 1872

Trade - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, May 11, 1872

Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors For the August Term 1872 - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 17, 1872

Correspondence - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, May 10, 1873

Winter Arrangements! (advertisement) - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 23, 1873

The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, September 7, 1878

1880 U.S. Census

1881, History and Business Directory of Shasta County, California

Indian Pike - The Daily Alta California newspaper of San Francisco, August 23, 1882

California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950 for Indian Pike

California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950 for Robert Pitt

May H. Southern’s scrapbook’s. Nine binders. Unpublished personal and researched material compiled by Southern.

My Playhouse Was A Concord Coach, an anthology of newspaper clippings and documents relating to those who made California history during the years 1822-1888, by Mae Hélène Bacon Boggs. Published by Howell-North Press ©1942

Shasta County, California A History by Rosena Giles, published by Biobooks, ©1949.

Place Names of Shasta County by Gertrude Steiger, published by La Siesta Press, ©1966

U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971

Archeological Investigations in the Sacramento River Canyon by Roberta Greenwood and Laurence Shoup. Report on file at the California Department of Transportation, Sacramento, California printed in 1984.